THE DEBT-FREE diocese of Hexham and Newcastle which is situated in one of the most deprived areas of Britain has given the initial L100,000 to a continuo fund to help other dioceses with debts and other financial difficulties.
Bishop Hugh Lindsay of Hexham and Newcastle said that the fund, the Bishops' Conference Mutual Support Fund, was to collect money and make grants to dioceses in England and Wales according to their needs.
The secret of Ilexham and Newcastle's wealth is to be the key to the new fund. Its watchword is "Keep nut of the banks" and is based on the principle that a parish with money in the bank lends to a parish without money at a very low rate of interest.
Bishop Lindsay believes that the scheme has saved the diocese some L3 million on its school building programme by avoiding getting into debt with banks, finance companies and the Department of Education and Science. He thinks that the same system could he applied nationally and after consultation with all the deaneries he offered £100,000 to the Bishops' Conference for support of dioceses in financial difficulties.
No other diocese has yet made a contribution to the fund but Bishop 1.indsay is hoping that other organisations such as religious orders will be willing to contribute to it.
Hexhant and Newcastle diocese has never had a levy in its parishes and only twice in the 196(hs had to raise money through special appeals. Since then it has been debt free and in 1977 it lent over £2 million interest free or at a very low rate of interest. About £1,750,000 had been deposited with the diocese by well off parishes. Bishop Lindsay said that 1978 had been another good year, and this had enabled him to start the fund.